Tuesday 2nd February was an adrenaline-pumping day in Hammertown. The All Balls Racing King of the Motos was held, won by the young Trystan Hart and in the short course took place the qualifications for the 4WP Every Man Challenge. David Hartman was the fast overall qualifier (1:52.66).
Young Gun Trystan Hart Takes the Crown at All Balls Racing Group King of the Motos
Ninety five of the best motorcycle riders from around the continent descended on Johnson Valley for the 2021 All Balls Racing Group King of the Motos. The day started with a short six-mile prologue starting and ending near Chocolate Thunder. Don’t let the length fool you into thinking that this was an easy course though. It went up Jackhammer, down Jack North, and up Wrecking Ball, the same boulder strewn canyons used for the unlimited car race at the end of the week. Justin Leineweber’s afternoon course was unmarked and required each rider to follow the 14-mile route on their GPS. Similar to years past, the 2021 King of the Motos was comprised of a handful of top riders at the event and the majority of the field comprised of exceptional desert riders from District 37 and beyond.
Last year’s second place finisher Trystan Hart emerged victorious in 2021, completing two laps on the brutal course to win the $15,000 purse. “What makes this race special is not just the purse, but the live coverage with helicopters following us - it is like a city in the middle of the desert out here, and it is really cool,” Hart shared at the finish line. When asked what had changed from previous years the 24-year-old candidly replied “I guess I am older now. I have matured. I was only like 19 when I first raced here.”
Taylor Robert was running with Hart until late in the race, when he went over the handlebars and lost positions to the rest of the field, putting him in fourth at the end of the race. As a result, the rest of the podium will be familiar to those who follow King of the Motos. 2015 and 2017 winner Colton Haaker was in second place when the checkered flag came out. “I'm terrible at the navigation,” Haaker confessed. “I mean I literally just keyed off of them all the time I hardly even looked at it. I didn't want to lead. To be honest with you, it wasn't going to be good. If I was to lead, I knew I was going to go the wrong way and then I'd have to catch back up anyway. So, I just kind of sat back.”
The podium was rounded out by Cody Webb, who has won King of the Motos five times since in started in 2012, including last year. “. In years past it’s kind of been me winning a lot of these races and a couple of other guys here and there but right now I think today there could have been four guys who could have won so I think the talent is getting deeper and it’s really good for this sport,” Webb explained after the race. “Trystan has proven he belongs up there.” Webb was the only rider to stop for fuel during the race, a decision that cost him time to Hart and Haaker. “I kind of hung back expecting we would get a show stopper and everyone would be hung up but there was nothing like that. So, I put myself too far back at the beginning and sprinted to catch up and I am not happy with what I did in the course but happy to get third.”
Top Ten Verified Results
1 - Trystan Hart 2
2 - Colton Haaker 3
3 - Cody Webb 1
4 - Taylor Robert 13
5 - Cory Graffunder 14
6 - Will Riordan 11
7 - Max Gerston 12
8 - Cooper Abbott 4
9 - Keith Sweeten 7
10 - Dustin McCarthy 34
2021 All Balls Racing King of the Motos Podium Finisher Quotes
Trystan Hart- 1st Place
Can you tell us about the race out there? At what point did you get the lead?
“On the first lap, me and Taylor (Roberts) went back and forth a couple of times, but he was pretty good with his GPS. So, I kind of let him do his thing he was he had a good pace for navigation. I let him do his thing on the first lap. And on the second lap, I kind of just went for it about halfway through and I didn't see the guys again after that. So, I put the hammer down. I actually went over the bars right near the end and everything got twisted up. I'm like, Oh my God.”
We just get to see these two parts of the course what was the hardest part?
“This was one of the hardest. This hill right here was pretty hard. There was a couple other hills that were hard but mainly this one.”
How many times have you done King of the Motos?
What was different this year that allowed you to win it?
“I'm just older, I guess. 24 now not 19 or whatever I was last time. It feels good.”
What kind of fitness does it take to do an event like this?
“You definitely want to have good aerobic fitness but this one wasn't too taxing on the body honestly, it was pretty short for extreme enduros. So, I was still good to go could have done more laps.”
You've been battling it looks like Cody Webb a lot this season. Did you ever see him on the course?
“Yeah, I think he was there at the start, but I don't know he must have crashed or something he kind of dropped off. I don't know what happened to him.”
What's been different about this year?
“I'm on the Red Bull KTM team now which is awesome thanks to them and just another year older and another year smarter so that helps.”
Final question, what makes this event special?
“We’re at the King of the Hammers, that's what makes this event special. There are so many people, there's helicopters, you don't really get that too often. So, it's a cool event, it’s like a city in the desert.”
Colton Haaker- 2nd Place
How did it go today?
“I lost time in the dust and I just couldn't really bring anything back when it got to the technical stuff. Congrats to him (Hart), you were good.”
Were you guys expecting to have the speed that you had today?
“Like personally or like how fast I could ride?”
It seemed like you guys got through those laps real quick, were you expecting that?
“Well, I don't want to sound overconfident but I know we know how to ride a dirt bike pretty well so luckily these guys know the GPS better, I just followed for the most part. And, yeah, it was a good battle I mean Taylor, Trystan, and I jockeyed for position, the whole first lap and half of the second lap so pretty good it was fun.”
When did you decide you're going do it again this year?
“The whole time I knew I was but I am a little late, late to sign up and wasn't too good in school so I'm not like a teacher's pet or anything.”
What makes you come back to this event every year?
“Well, first of all it's part of our contracts to be here, but second of all, it's a cool event and we'd like to see it grow we'd like to see it get bigger; we'd like to see other riders come out and do it as well. This place is hard, it's nasty and I think the last like six or seven years we've been fine tuning the event down, getting to the point where it's really, really difficult for the top riders. It's not there yet but they’re getting closer so I think it's overall like a very fun event for everyone from like a beginner hard enduro rider to a professional.”
How did the navigation, this because this is one of your only enduros with navigation. How did that go today?
“Yeah I'm terrible. I just, I mean I literally just keyed off of them all the time I hardly even looked at it. I didn't want to lead. To be honest with you, it wasn't going to be good. If I was lead, I knew I was going to go the wrong way and then I'd have to catch back up anyway. So, I just kind of sat back.”
Were you ever in a position where you thought you were going to pass Trystan?
“We would be jockeying for position the whole race until halfway through the second lap. Right before there's really a long road he he gotten ahead of me. Taylor went over the bars on this nasty downhill, Trystan and I took a higher line. I waited for Taylor to get up. Trystan was ahead of me at the bottom of that downhill, it's all road and I lost time on him in the dust and I couldn't see anything. So, I laid back and then from there it was pretty much just like if you didn't make a mistake. You weren't really going to catch up. He got positioned the right time and made it happen. Congrats to him (Hart).”
What was it like to be able to have this event in the middle of a pandemic?
“It is awesome to be able to race, first of all, but second of all, I don't think there should be any reason why we shouldn't be racing or doing anything as we normally should. I believe that we should all live our life and do as we please, but also take care of ourselves and our fellow Americans and everyone else in the world. Everyone should have responsibilities and accountability to know what's best for them.”
And we'll see you next year?
“Yeah, of course. I would love to be here. I'm going to be here every year.”
You said you saw Trystan at one point there could have been a place where you might have passed him?
“Yeah. Well, when I was ahead of him, and I thought I was in pretty good position. Taylor went down and I was right behind him. So then I waited for him to get up and then Trystan went around the high side of us and passed us and got into position right before the dusty road. And then there's not really much I could do from there. I just kind of lost time because of the dust. Because at that point we knew we were going for the most part like there was a course there was a track like from all other bikes so there wasn't much you could do like once you got in that position.”
Cody Webb- 3rd Place
Why do you always come back to the Hammers?
“It’s in California and not too far from my house. The atmosphere here is different from any other race, if it were on the other side of the country it would be hard for me to get to but it’s convenient for me and I’m not going to miss that.”
What were your expectations coming into today? You’ve won more King of the Hammers than anyone else, did you get to see the course?
“No, I didn’t get to see the course. I was definitely expecting the course to be way harder than it was. It wasn’t what I was expecting, I kind of hung back expecting we would get a show stopper and everyone would be hung up but there was nothing like that. So, I put myself too far back at the beginning and sprinted to catch up and I am not happy with what I did in the course but happy to get third.”
What were some of the hardest parts of the course for you?
“Just the start maybe and that’s about it.”
Were you ever in contention for the win?
“Yeah, in the very beginning I was in second then I made a quick little navigation error right after I got in the lead, so I was in the lead for a second and I was always kind of close but I went for a stiffer tire thinking I would need one to last longer. But the race was shorter than I expected so, everything was my own fault this year. I didn’t make it happen.”
You were one of the only ones to stop for fuel, why did you make that decision?
“I didn’t want to be the idiot that runs out of gas, that’s why I stopped, but I guess I could have made it but, whatever.”
Do you think that could have made a difference?
“It would have helped out for sure. Maybe I could have caught on to the coat tails of Trystan and Colton and gotten nearer to the front. I wasn’t far behind but far enough where I really had to work to catch Taylor to get on the podium.”
I feel like I have seen you battling with Trystan a lot this year, he’s kind of a young up and comer.
“Yeah, he’s definitely proven he belongs up there. It kind of goes back and forth depending on the race. In years past it’s kind of been me winning a lot of these races and a couple of other guys here and there but right now I think today there could have been four guys who could have won so I think the talent is getting deeper and it’s really good for this sport.”
If you were a coach or an analyst, what do you think is clicking for him (Trystan) right now?
“He probably won a race and learned he could do it. It’s all a mental game at that point.”
Do you have any idea how many calories you burn doing this?
“I don’t know, I kinda had a stomach ache when I finished, but no clue. I didn’t bring my heart rate monitor today but easily in two hours today could have easily burned 2,000 calories today.”
Will we see you here next year?
“I’ll be here as long as King of the Motos is around.”
Taylor Robert- 4th Place
If you were to be cutting a piece for Sports Center right now, what were the three most exciting parts of the course for you?
“The start was obviously super exciting. I almost was the first one to the top of the hill, and then ended up losing the bike at the very top, taking out my teammate, but ended up getting back up. And it was crazy because we went over the backside and then everybody was kind of just navigating off the GPS. And I looked ahead and saw where the course was. I passed and went from fifth to first in like 10 seconds. And then I was in first for a long time. Trystan and I went back and forth a couple times. And then on the second lap, I hit a rock going down while the hills and it flipped me over the bars and broke my thumb. Took the wind out of my sails a little bit. So, you know, all in all, it would have been nice to be on the podium, at least if not on top of the podium but everybody was riding really good.”
What makes this event special?
“Just the unique area, the terrain, the people that, you know, being part of the King of the Hammers. It's just, it's an insane event. I love being here. It's the biggest motor sports event that I ever go to.”
And I know we saw you a few years ago, you took a little bit of a hard crash here, were you nervous all coming back?
“No, I wasn't really nervous. You know, that was kind of a fluke thing. And, you know, I can't really dwell on that too much. So I just tried to focus on today and not worry about the past.”
What's next for you?
“Yeah, have another works race in a couple of weeks and then the rest of the hard enduro series, so have a pretty busy year.”
4WP Every Man Challenge Qualifying Results
In addition to the King of the Motos race, qualifying for the 4WP Every Man Challenge also took place on Tuesday on a course that combines all the elements of King of the Hammers in a 1.14-mile loop adjacent to Hammertown. David Hartman was the fast overall qualifier (1:52.66) and the fastest qualifier in the Branik Motorsports Legends Class (4800) in his Jimmy’s 4x4-built buggy. Hartman hopes that starting in clean air, combined with all of his hard work during the off season, will allow him to improve on his 8th place finish from 2020. John Mathews posted the best qualifying time in the Yukon Gear and Axle Modified Class (4500) with a time of 2:03. The 4500 and 4800 classes have a combined start based on qualifying position, while the Spidertrax Stock Class (4600) start after all of the Modified and Legends vehicles. Joseph Edmonds posted the fastest qualifying time in 4600 at 2:41. For comparison, Jay Shaw was the fastest qualifier for Thursday’s UTV race, posting a time of 1:40 on the same course.
Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Pro Eagle, Buggy Whips, and BOXO Tools
The day was capped off with the popular Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Pro Eagle, Buggy Whips, and BOXO Tools. Dustin “Battle Axe” Jones and his S3 Power Sports team performed a tire change and fueled their car in just 48 seconds, earning them two Pro Eagle jacks, two LED Buggy Whips, loads of BOXO tools, a CO2 Powertank, a new HCR suspension kit, and a Pelican cargo case. The action continues on Wednesday with more qualifying ahead of the Can-Am UTV King of the Hammers presented by PROGRESSIVE Insurance on Thursday, the 4WP Every Man Challenge on Friday, and culminates with the OPTIMA Batteries King of the Hammers Presented by Lasernut on Saturday, February 6th, with unlimited 4WD vehicles running though the most challenging terrain imaginable.
By following the links below you can be updated on all the races of the 2021 KOH Week